For example, being a know-it-all type person, I've always found comfort in thinking that all of life's mysteries would be revealed to us after death. We'd know who shot JFK, which sibling tattled on us, and whether Ben Roethlisburger really broke the plane of the goal line. But if there is no God, there are no answers. The secrets of our world have passed into oblivion, and will never be known. There is something depressing about that. I'll never be able to read the lost plays of Sophocles or know just what burned up in the library at Alexandria. The Dark Ages will always be dark. It's stupid and geeky, I know, but oh how I wish there was an absolute knowable truth.
The worst thing about my new world is the lack of justice. There is no reward for good deeds or suffering, and there is no penalty for evil. Victims of tragedy have that tragedy multiplied several times over by the fact that they will never receive justice or comfort, just oblivion. The tragedy is that no one will ever make up the difference for all our wrongs. We have to do the best we can on our own, because no magical accountant can come and level our balance sheets.
For this reason, I think I am more attuned to the everyday tragedies since the loss of my faith. It is far too easy to rationalize things away, saying, "God will fix everything in the end." Some people may find hope in an eternal perspective, but I find it repellant. Repellant because people are risking their real present happiness for an amorphous and uncertain future. I respect people who have faith; I find it difficult to accord the same feeling to those who are certain.
I think it is almost arrogant, this feeling that I know that everything will work out in the end, so be quiet and stop complaining. This is an attitude that can turn people off of religion in general. I am 99% certain of my point-of-view and you are 99% certain of yours. One of us is wrong. It could be me. I doubt it, but it could be. It kills me when people are forced to sacrifice their happiness for blithe assurances of the eternities. One of the doctrines I dislike most is that this life is just a short interval in our eternal progression. The implication is that this life is just a burden to be borne, one long temptation to be avoided. Keep your head down and don't look to the sides, or you'll screw up not just your life, but your eternities. How noxious an idea! Turning our brief, miraculous consciousness into a degradation and humiliation to be endured.
To me that is real tragedy. To live your life in constant fear of destroying your eternity. I refuse to believe it. Everyone is familiar with Pascal's Wager. It goes, if I believe in God and he exists, then I will be rewarded. If I believe and he doesn't exist, I won't have lost anything, so I might as well believe.
I propose Ned's Wager: If we warp our lives to conform to what we perceive to be God's will and we're wrong, and he doesn't exist, then we've squandered our entire life. Our complete eternity if you will.
If I am wrong, and an all-powerful God does exist, then he has some questions to answer. I can't believe that he will punish me for being sincere, for being concerned about others' and my happiness.
I will not waste my time on things that make me unhappy. That's a gamble I'm willing to make.
Posted by Ned Flanders.